Treating Dual Diagnosis Patients: A Comprehensive Guide

Dual diagnosis is a term used to describe a person with both a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder. For example, someone diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder would qualify for dual-diagnosis treatment. It is essential to provide dual-diagnosis treatment options for those who have both psychological maladjustment and dependence on drugs or alcohol. Dual diagnostic treatment is complicated by the symptoms covering addiction and psychological distress.

Full recovery requires time and special care due to the delicate nature of the individual. Since these patients have mental illnesses, it can be difficult to get them to comply with the rules and regulations of a regular substance abuse recovery program. In the initial stages of treatment, those who have been using drugs or alcohol heavily may need to undergo detoxification, vitamin supplementation, and fluid replacement as part of the adjustment process. While these and other specialized treatments are effective, developing widespread therapies to treat broader combinations of co-occurring disorders is now an important goal for those in the field.

People diagnosed with both substance abuse and another mental disorder may be particularly challenged by the social difficulties of a dual diagnosis. You and your treatment provider should understand how each condition affects the other and how your treatment may be most effective. Managing patients with dual diagnosis (mental illness and substance use disorder) is a challenge. Adequate treatment should address the social struggles of a dual diagnosis, as well as the disorders themselves. Friends and family members of someone struggling with a dual diagnosis may have difficulty staying close to their loved one. The main differences in the studied groups include outcome measures, sample characteristics, type of mental illness and substances used, settings, levels of adherence to treatment guidelines, and definitions of standard care.

Most interventions take into account cognitive deficits and residual symptoms in patients with psychotic disorder, even during periods of remission. A comprehensive treatment plan with a specialist, therapist or counselor will address both your mental illness and your addiction problem. Not surprisingly, having more than one disorder presents treatment challenges, but challenges that can be overcome. Professionals experienced in treating addiction now recognize the need for firm yet compassionate care in the dual-diagnosis treatment of dual-diagnosis patients. In particular, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people with dual diagnoses learn how to cope and change ineffective thinking patterns, which can increase the risk of substance use. This service provides referrals to local treatment centers, support groups and community organizations.

The Addiction Center does not endorse any treatment center or guarantee the quality of care provided, or the results to be achieved, by any treatment center. Since an individual with a dual diagnosis may experience more severe and persistent symptoms, they may be required to receive individualized care. With proper care and support from family members, friends, healthcare professionals, and other members of the community, individuals with dual diagnosis can achieve long-term recovery.

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